Regularise Your Operations, DPR Warns Illegal Operators

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has given operators of illegal downstream facilities in Nigeria such as petrol stations and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) plants, three months to regularise their operations.
The directive would elapse by the end of this quarter.

The DPR stressed that at the expiration of the deadline, it would clamp down on the operations of the illegal operators.
DPR’s Abuja Zonal Operations Controller, Mr. Abdul Abba, said this at an annual general meeting of stakeholders in the country’s oil industry which was recently organised by the DPR in Abuja.

Abba, who explained that the meeting was meant to bring major players in the downstream oil and gas sector together to review the operational challenges of the industry in 2018, and set out new plans for it in 2019, noted that the new measures would keep illegal downstream retail outlets from operating in the market.

“I must however stress here that a time frame has been set to first quarter of this year for owners of illegal outlets – filling stations and gas plants, to regularise their facilities.

“DPR will take all necessary measures within the ambience of the law on any illegal retail outlet that fail to regularise after the expiration of the grace period,” said Abba in his remarks.

According to him: “We have seen where lack of compliance to the statutory regulations with respect to depots, filling stations and LPG outlets has led to huge losses in investment, lives and degradation of environment.

“This forum was therefore set up as part of DPR’s continued efforts of sensitising stakeholders on safe operations of petroleum handling facilities and guidelines governing their operations, so as to have zero accidents to humans and the environment.”

Similarly, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said at the meeting that compliance to regulations by operators in the industry was its biggest challenge.

NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Downstream of the corporation, Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, specifically stated that a lot of operators would prefer to sidestep obedience to regulations and rather disrespect laws governing the industry.

He said: “The theme of today’s workshop is extremely important because regulatory compliance is a veritable tool for safe and efficient operations in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, and in deed in the global industry.

“We all remember that over the years we’ve learnt from a lot of very regrettable mistakes that led to incidents that transformed the way we do business in this industry. It is important that we always remember that one mistake in the oil and gas industry is sufficient to wipe out the entire business. It is as bad as an aircraft crash.”

Baru, further stated: “So, as operators we have a responsibility to support the efforts of agencies like DPR, PPPRA (Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency), PEF (Petroleum Equalisation Fund) who daily drive compliance in the industry.”

He equally explained that it was important for regulators to always ensure that they enforce regulations, because without enforcement they will never achieve full compliance.

“The responsible operator will comply, whether you are there to visit their facility or not, but a lot more of the operators will not comply. This is because the cost of non-compliance is cheaper than complying with regulations.

“But the truth is that the long term benefits of compliance far outweigh the short term benefits of non-compliance. So the only way you can achieve longevity in any business in any sector is by ensuring that you comply with regulations,” he added.